To finally put the Oscar season to bed, and to honor Meryl Streep’s surprising but not shocking win for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in The Iron Lady which I reviewed here, I’ve decided to review an earlier Streep film about success, both personal and professional, and fashion – since fashion is so much a part of the feeding frenzy known as the Oscars. It is a film that stars Meryl Streep as well as another actress who will be forever remembered for her role in the Oscar broadcast in 2011 – Anne Hathaway. This is a film that I saw back in August of 2006, and hadn’t seen since [until a few hours ago].
The film was entitled The Devil Wears Prada. The screenplay was adapted by Aline Brosh McKenna from the best selling novel of the same name written by Lauren Beth Weisberger. In a few words, it is the story of a young girl who is naive and totally oblivious to the world of high fashion who lands a job at the biggest fashion magazine in New York, as the second assistant to the magazine’s Editor. As I said above – it is a job that a million girls would kill to get.
Hathaway plays Andrea aka ‘Andy’ Sachs, a graduate from Northwestern University, who somehow despite being totally wrong for the job – lands it. While we learn about the inner workings of the fashion industry, for Andy Sachs, she now finds herself right smack in the heart of what could be called the viper’s nest, or the lion’s den, or even dead center in the middle of a maze where an entire rat pack moves continuously at high speed. Her boss is the titular ‘Devil Who Wears Prada’, or said out of her hearing – The Dragon Lady.
First of all, she doesn’t look right for the job. Andy is by no means fat, or even heavy – but in that world of haute couture, she looks, well, wrong. She’s known as the smart fat girl which is one of the reasons why Miranda Priestly, the doyenne of Runway Magazine, took a chance on her and gave her the job. The other reason is that Emily, now Miranda’s Number One Assistant had previously sent Miranda two previous Number Two Assistants, both of whom crashed and burned, or said another way – were quickly fired.
Andy has the following talk with Nigel, Runway Magazine’s Art Director, while they are in line at the magazine’s cafeteria, waiting to pay for lunch. Nigel has just told Andy that the main ingredient of her selected lunch – corn chowder – is cellulite.
Andy Sachs: So none of the girls here eat anything?
Nigel: Not since two became new four and zero became the new two.
Andy Sachs: Well, I’m a six…
Nigel: Which is the new fourteen.
So size does matter. Poor Andy – she lacks style, fashion sense, is being worked outrageously, and on top of all that, she hasn’t a moment to eat a thing. Miranda never says thanks for a job well done. She treats her assistants like a combination of her own handmaids, go-fers, or slaves. If by chance you fail to have hot coffee on her desk when she enters, or a different task remains incomplete, or even still in progress – you get a merciless tongue lashing. It is never loud, it’s never shouted – but softly spoken doesn’t mean that it isn’t vicious.